Steve McGarrett (Jack Lord) never felt the heat. How did he not look like a sweaty mess around a tropical island in dark suits inside a black car without air conditioning? The man’s body was kept constantly cold with the desire to bring justice to Honolulu. Also it helps that he has no reason to break a sweat since the series was a Top 20 hit. Danno (James MacArthur) and Chin Ho (Kam Fong) remained by his side. After years as a supporting cop and a probation year on the team, Duke (Herman Wedemeyer) becomes a full member. Hawaii Five-O: The Ninth Season captures a calm time inside the headquarters to allow McGarrett to focus on the evildoers coming at him.
A long running series juices up a season opener by flying the cast to exotic Hawaii. The Bradys did it. But what can you do with a series already shot around Honolulu? A very special episode from Newark doesn’t cut it. “Nine Dragons” brings the action to Hong Kong, the capital of Asian action. Back in Hawaii, the university is experimenting with deadly toxins. Five-O provides the security, but they come up short when Wo Fat breaks into the labs with his henchmen. He takes the toxins back to Hong Kong as part of his elaborate plan to overthrow the Chinese communist government. He doesn’t appreciate how they’ve become friendly with America. McGarrett doesn’t let the CIA handle this situation. He flies into Hong Kong ready for another fight with Fat. But it goes horribly wrong since Fat’s got agents in the local police department. Can McGarrett save China and the world even though he’s in a strange land? Luckily Chin Ho shows up to help semi-translate. Even though Duke finally appears in the opening credits, he’s left back on the island to hold down the office. “Assault on the Palace” has a heist performed under the cover of a historical recreation.
“Oldest Profession: Latest Price” brings Ned Beatty to the island. He’s killing hookers that aren’t paying into his protection racket. For such a pathetic character in Deliverance, Ned is extra nasty when coming up with creative ways to murder the ladies of the evening. “Double Exposure” makes dating a Five-O member a dangerous proposition. Danno’s photographer girlfriend (Meg Foster) unknowingly snaps pictures of two mobsters that just snuck back onto the island. They want a low profile and don’t mind putting her under the sand. “The Bell Tolls at Noon” gives us a vengeful side of impersonator Rich Little. The episode startles with Rich pulling out a sniper rifle to snuff a drug dealer on the steps of a church. But this isn’t Rich tossing away his schtick to play a bad-ass. His avenger is addicted to classic Warner Brothers gangster flicks. He does Humphrey Bogart and James Cagney while icing the people responsible for a young girl overdosing on narcotics. Jack Lord directed the episode and has fun staging scenes like the finales of various Cagney films. Rich’s final target is a drug importer (Don Knight) who has never seen White Heat. Don Knight ended up in six different guest roles during the show’s dozen seasons. He was a repeat offender.
“Man in a Steel Frame” makes McGarrett the prime suspect in the murder of his girlfriend (Camilla Sparv). Dating Five-O is bad for your health. A local mobster wants McGarrett behind bars so he and the inmates can give the supercop a piece of prison law. McGarrett fights the charges. The romance is told in extended flashbacks. It’s easy to make fun of McGarrett’s constant dark suit wardrobe, whenever he dressed civilian, he always looked like he’d raided Bea Arthur’s closet. “Dealer’s Choice – Blackmail” places John Ritter in the middle of mobster running over a cop. Instead of going to the law, he bribes the mobster for his silence. Is this ever a good idea? “Blood Money Is Hard to Wash” makes a mobster wanting a piece of a football team in order to skim the profits. Was there ever profit in Hawaiian football? Joan Anne Worley (Laugh In) plays the mobster’s wife. The 23 cases for Hawaii Five-O: The Ninth Season are as twisted as ever, but you’ll never see McGarrett sweat too hard when he cruises up to the crime scene.
“Nine Dragons,” “Assault on the Palace,” “Oldest Profession — Latest Price,” “Man on Fire,” “Tour de Force, Killer Aboard,” “The Last of the Great Paperhangers,” “Heads, You’re Dead,” “Let Death Do Us Part,” “Double Exposure,” “Yes, My Deadly Daughter,” “Target — A Cop,” “The Bells Toll at Noon,” “Man in a Steel Frame,” “Ready… Aim…,” “Elegy in a Rain Forest,” “Dealer’s Choice — Blackmail,” “A Capitol Crime,” “To Die In Paradise,” “Blood Money is Hard to Wash,” “To Kill a Mind,” “Requiem for a Saddle Bronc Rider,” “See How She Runs” and “Practical Jokes Can Kill You.”
The video is 1.33:1 full frame. The transfers bring out the details and the colors of the tropical islands. You might be able to spot a sweat bead on McGarrett’s forehead. The audio is Dolby Digital Mono. The lush sounds of Hawaii come through your speakers without much volume adjustment. The episodes have English subtitles.
Episodic Promos (1:00) are provided for a majority of the episodes. The episodes now run a majority of the promo before the opening credits without Jack Lord reminding us to “Be here. Aloha.”
Hawaii Five-O: The Ninth Season keeps up the island justice under the watchful eye of Steve McGarrett. Fans of the series often hold this up as the last season before things went weird enough to cause James MacArthur and Kam Fong to quit the force. This truly is the calm season before the pineapples took over the scripts.
CBS DVD presents Hawaii Five-O: The Ninth Season. Starring: Jack Lord, James MacArthur, Kam Fong and Herman Wedemeyer. Boxset Contents: 23 episodes on 6 DVDs. Released on DVD: August 3, 2010.
Joe Corey is the writer and director of "Danger! Health Films" currently streaming on Night Flight and Amazon Prime. He's the author of "The Seven Secrets of Great Walmart People Greeters." This is the last how to get a job book you'll ever need. He was Associate Producer of the documentary "Moving Midway." He's worked as local crew on several reality shows including Candid Camera, American's Most Wanted, Extreme Makeover Home Edition and ESPN's Gaters. He's been featured on The Today Show and CBS's 48 Hours. Dom DeLuise once said, "Joe, you look like an axe murderer." He was in charge of research and programming at the Moving Image Archive.